editor on the verge

Online musings from the newsroom and beyond . . . by Yoni Greenbaum

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Palm Beach looks to the future

February 13th, 2008 · 5 Comments

The Palm Beach Post has decided to actually do what so many people in journalism have only been willing to talk about. But with the exception of a few blog posts including one from Erica Smith of graphicdesignr.net fame, that news has largely gone ignored.

Just about a week ago, Managing Editor Bill Rose announced in a memo, “it’s time to change.” Rose went on to make a compelling argument:

“For too long, we’ve stuck with a structure that was designed to serve a print newspaper. We’ve sort of grafted the Internet onto that and it’s worked, but not nearly well enough. Especially in this time of economic uncertainty, we cannot continue to do things the same way we’ve done them for decades upon decades. The Internet now represents a significant and growing source of revenue at a time when our revenue is not what it used to be. For us to make the Web an afterthought would be pretty foolhardy.”

Highlights of what they are doing include:

  • Metro now called the Breaking News Department.
  • Reporters and editors in the former metro department first priority will be to file all breaking news to the Web as soon as possible.
  • A print editor will supervise production of the Local section and the preparation of print stories for the newspaper.
  • Most Metro editors and reporters will be working much earlier shifts, while several other editors and reporters will work even later shifts to handle print stories.
  • A new Enterprise Department will be created, whose primary responsibility is serving the print newspaper. The enterprise team will produce a steady diet of investigative, enterprise and trend stories. It will also produce well-written “reads” or feature stories. Its stories should be aimed at Page One.
  • Continue to hire more people into the Digital Department (Online), from inside — and outside — the building and will focus on not only beefing up and improving the daily production of our site but will increase focus on developing new products and other niche ideas.
  • Business and Sports and Features will create Web pods within their own departments.The
    Features pod will initially consist of two producers for Accent and A&E.
  • Studying the feasibility of a universal copy desk.
  • Ultimately, begin to merge our print and online production operations. Traditional way of “putting out the newspaper” will eventually give way to a 24/7 production desk for the entire newsroom. Editors would simultaneously produce print and Web products.

I definitely think the Post’s efforts should be applauded and encouraged by everyone in the newspaper industry. We need more newsroom leaders who are willing to take the steps that Rose and his team are undertaking. And I think that in the coming weeks and months we all should take advantage of the opportunity to learn from their decisions. For today, I wanted to bring their ideas and approaches to your attention and hopefully get you thinking about this I approach, I know I am.

Tags: Industry · Innovation · Leadership · Online · Organization

5 responses so far ↓

  • 1 Pat Thornton // Feb 13, 2008 at 3:08 pm

    I’ve read the whole memo, and I find it very exciting. I don’t know if it will work, but I like the fact that they are trying something — anything — different.

    The old way isn’t working for newspapers. We need to find new ways to operate. I think the idea of making metro into a breaking news desk is a great idea.

    I also really like the idea of having Web pods within individual departments. That’s a fantastic way to give individual departments more Web autonomy.

  • 2 William M. Hartnett // Feb 13, 2008 at 3:44 pm

    Far and away, my favorite part of what we’re doing down here in South Florida is that I’ll continue getting paid. Actually, here’s the really fun part: We’ll have a lot more than just memos worth talking about in the not-terribly-distant future.

  • 3 Yoni Greenbaum // Feb 13, 2008 at 6:48 pm

    @Pat – Glad to see someone taking a BIG step instead of a bunch of little ones.

    @William – Two words — can’t wait.

  • 4 ScribbleSheet Blog // Feb 14, 2008 at 10:35 am

    […] It looks like some newspapers are getting with the times and sorting out their act and getting ready to tackle this new thing […]

  • 5 Moo-moo cow « Content Ninja’s Weblog // Mar 12, 2008 at 5:36 pm

    […] Still more interesting is the Palm Beach Post (http://www.palmbeachpost.com/), which is putting its own spin on the AJC experiment and scaling it down for a smaller paper (smaller compared with AJC). Yoni Greenbaum, Editor on the Verge blogger, has an excellent and concise breakdown of the changes: http://www.yonigreenbaum.com/index.php/20080213/palm-beach-looks-to-the-future/#more-141 […]

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